The Government and Community Relations Office held the first international food drive to benefit the campus Food Pantry from November to December, 2018. Separating itself from traditional food drives, this initiative highlighted ethnic food items to appeal to Stony Brook University’s diverse campus and raised nearly 200 food items.
“Campus services at Stony Brook are managed through a filter of diversity. That is particularly important for a service such as the Food Pantry as it addresses the serious issue of food insecurity,” said Cohen Miles-Rath, Graduate Student Assistant in the Community Relations Office and coordinator of “Food with Meaning.” “For students from other countries using the Food Pantry, having the option of diverse food items will offer a warmer welcome and a connection to their ethnicity.”
The food drive was part of the Food with Meaning project that also looks for personal insights through the one-question survey of “What does the Campus Food Pantry mean to you?” A survey response has stated, “It means giving a commodity that everyone needs to people who may not be able to afford it, without judgment.”
The survey question prompted many discussions at tabling events held in the library. Some students were learning of the campus Food Pantry for the first time while others expressed sincere gratitude for having food accessible. The survey is available until March 31, 2019 and can be answered by campus community members.
The Food with Meaning project was awarded a Presidential Mini-Grant for Departmental Diversity Initiative. The project is managed by Project Supervisor Joan Dickinson, Director for Community Relations, and Project Coordinator Cohen Miles-Rath. Volunteer undergraduate students Sara Scheibert, a freshman studying Psychology and Pre-Med, and Sara Vincent, a senior studying Biology and Health and Wellness, provide assistance. The program is partnered with the University Food Pantry and Co-Directors Donna Crapanzano, Clinical Assistant Professor of Health Science, and Richard Sigal, Assistant Director of College Housing. Special thanks to the School of Social Welfare, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Africana Studies, Faculty Student Association, and the Amazon location on campus for their support with the food drive.